Forum: How does she know about charter’s success?
May 23, 2012 7:28PM
Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) | AP file photo
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:09AM
Jill Gottfred, policy manager of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, recently submitted a letter to Forum in which she took issue with a SouthtownStar editorial that questioned the fairness of funding for Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park.
She describes the school as “successful” and contends that “there is no dispute that Southland College Prep is a desperately needed, high-quality option for students in (Rich Township High School) District 227.” She says the charter school is “doing so well that demand substantially exceeds the current capacity of 125 students per class.”
At the present time, only freshman and sophomores attend the school. The Prairie State Achievement Exam. which measures academic progress statewide, is given in high schools during the junior year.
Therefore, I can’t help but wonder on what basis Ms. Gottfred is making these claims. Have tests other than the PSAE been administered at the school that establish superior results for its students? It’s easy to make claims of success, but without evidence such claims ring hollow.
There’s no doomsday in pension-cost shift
In a May 11 letter, state Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) said asking local school districts to pay for the pensions of their employees would lead to an “inherent property tax increase.” Not true.
We must end the practice of school districts handing out end-of-career salary spikes and pension sweeteners, only to have the state pick up the higher retirement costs. That practice has destroyed spending accountability across the state.
Illinois Policy Institute research found that state-funded pension contributions overwhelmingly favor the wealthiest school districts with the highest employee compensation packages. We’re not against higher pay, but taxpayers in poorer communities shouldn’t be on the hook for North Shore pension costs. Local districts should be accountable for the benefits of their employees.
Opponents of local pension accountability warn of doomsday scenarios. But in covering the “normal cost” of pensions, school districts would on average see total expenses increase by just 3.7 percent. That’s hardly catastrophic.
There are a myriad of ways to find efficiencies and avoid property tax increases. We should start with what Sen. Brady recommends — benefit reforms. Each school board should examine what it spends on health care benefits, accumulated sick leave and other generous perks.
Taxpayers shouldn’t fear taking on the costs of teacher pensions at the local level. They should fear keeping Springfield in control.
Vice president of policy
Illinois Policy Institute